Print sets sight on pre-Covid levels as ad growth transcends festive 2020

Key sectors like Real Estate, Automobile, E-Commerce and FMCG are looking at this festive season to shore up their business revenues

e4m by Sonam Saini
Published: Sep 21, 2021 8:55 AM  | 6 min read

The first quarter of FY22 might have started on a slow note, delaying print's recovery due to the second Covid wave, but it didn't impact the revenues as severely as 2020 did.

During the Q1 FY 22, several print companies reported growth in advertising and circulation revenue, which seems to be a positive indicator for the coming quarters. 

For instance, Jagran Prakashan Limited (JPL) advertisement revenues were at Rs 165.64 crores in Q1 FY22, up by 52.3% from Rs 108.78 crores in Q1 FY21. The company also witnessed an increase of 14% in circulation revenue. 

Similarly, DB Corp's advertising revenue stood at Rs. 171.3 crore as against Rs. 107.0 crore in Q1 FY 21, whereas circulation revenue stood at Rs. 110. 6 crores as against Rs. 92.8 crore.

Starting with Onam, followed by Ganesh Chaturthi in Q2, and later followed by Durga Puja, Dussera and Diwali in Q3, the sector's festive period has begun on an auspicious note.  

According to Girish Agarwaal, Promoter Director, Dainik Bhaskar Group, the company has seen robust growth in August and September (till date), especially compared to 2019. 

Some of the categories that have seen good growth performances include Real Estate and Education (around 30%), Healthcare/Hospitals (around 25%), Consumer Electronics (approximately 38%) FMCG (about 25%) classified (around 40%) and Entertainment (around 30%). With these categories firing, the newspaper has witnessed local advertising growth in double-digit.

Agarwaal added, "Notable states that have grown double-digit are our legacy markets of MP, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. These growths are particularly relevant because they are significant revenue contributors." Agarwaal also shared that the company's advertising pricing is back to pre-Covid levels. He added, "Since we have withdrawn special schemes and also driven by the fact that we have regained more than 90% of our circulation and our markets are showing strong consumption and response to advertising communication."

While the categories like Real Estate, Auto, FMCG, E-commerce, Consumer Durable continue to spend on the sector,  the sector is also witnessing types like Crypto Currency, OTT, GEC, Lifestyle, BFSI etc. looking at this festive season to shore up their business revenues. 

"There is a visible pent-up demand which has made the 2021 festive season witness an increase in consumer spending across categories like Real Estate, Auto, FMCG, E-Commerce, Consumer Durables, Clothing, etc," said Sivakumar Sundaram, Chairman Executive Committee, BCCL.  He said, "Print advertisement has always been the barometer for the resurgence of the economy. Since July and now, the performance of print in the early stages of the festive season has given us a huge sense of optimism."

Sundaram further added, "We are much ahead of 2020 festive and are benchmarking now with festive 2019 i.e. period before Covid. Once local Retail and F&B open up to normal levels, it will further boost the festive mood. I am confident that the Times Group would deliver on the marketing and brand objectives this festive to marketers."

Meanwhile, in the Kerala Market, the newspaper companies already witnessed tremendous growth during Onam this year.  

M V Shreyams Kumar, Managing Director, Mathrubhumi Group, said that the festive season looks more promising than last year as the economy is back on the revival track. Vaccination drive reaching out to more numbers across India,  decrease in corona cases, and easing lockdown restrictions are paving the way for the market scenario to ease out, which will help the upcoming festive season gain growth momentum.

Kumar said, "For Kerala, our biggest festival Onam revenue sales have considerably fared better than last year. We experienced growth across our integrated platforms, including print, radio, television, and radio business."  However, the pricing during the Onam festive season was the same for the company. "We did not make any changes in our pricing strategy."  

Echoing the similar thought, Varghese Chandy, VP-Marketing & Advertising Sales, Malayala Manorama, shared that Kerala witnessed high numbers during the festive period (Onam), while the rest of the states were in the recovery phase. " The festive period worked very well for us. The adex grew 30% during Onam over last year, whereas we have reached to 84% of 2019 level since that had a regular business during Onam." He also mentioned that the all the sector in Kerala has witnessed a robust growth during Onam this year.

However, the opening up of markets, increase in vaccination drive, decrease in the number of cases, and more relaxation are some of the key factors driving the growth of the sector. This festive period will also witness the two mega sports properties well. 

"A lot of categories are common which use both Cricket and Print for advertising. Hence the budgets will get split, and Print growth might witness some speed breakers, " said,  Navin Kathuria, Executive Vice President - Planning & Buying, OMD Mudramax. 

With other big festivals like Durga Puja and Diwali in the coming months, print advertising will grow. Sectors like Retail, Real Estate, Entertainment etc. have started advertising in large formats, and we see Jacket advertising becoming consistent after a long time since the Pandemic hit the country.

According to Kathuria, starting with Onam and then followed by Ganesh Chaturthi, print has seen an increased inventory consumption – more on regional but even National dailies catering to Cosmopolitan cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur has seen increased consumption of print."

"As compared to last year, this year looks better for print, since previous year when the festive season arrived, the country was coming out of the peak of COVID's 1st wave (Aug-Sep'20) and print advertising though showing signs of recovery, and not all advertisers were returning to the medium.  Although print advertising might not hit the 2019 levels in terms of inventory/revenues, it will be better than in 2020," said Kathuria. 

Speaking on the increase in pricing,  Kathuria explained that the rates are bound to go up with an increase in inventory demand. "If the large-format advertising is to be taken an indicator of the medium bouncing back, one should also expect premium pricing for premium positions, different formats like Flaps, Jackets etc. Last year's festive period had arrived just after the peak of the 1st wave. The print medium was the most affected during the first wave. Even in the festive period, though demand was slightly increased, prices did not shoot up proportionately. This year Print rates will go up vis-à-vis last year."

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